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如何罢免美国总统,先来了解一下宪法第二十五条修正案

彭博社 2018年09月27日

最近有迹象表明,甚至在特朗普的政府内部,也有关于动用修正案的讨论。

怎样才能合法罢免在任的总统?很多人听说过弹劾,这是美国国会拥有(却几乎没有动用过)的一项权力。另外还有美国宪法第二十五条修正案,它为极端条件下领导团队罢免总统提供了可能。过去两年来,唐纳德·特朗普的批评者们一边审视着他们认定的总统反复无常的行为,一边赞成甚至充满希望地引用着这条修正案。最近还有迹象表明,甚至在特朗普的政府内部,也有关于动用修正案的讨论。

1. 第二十五条修正案有着怎样的规定?

它规定,若副总统和国会的多数成员认为总统“不能够履行总统职务的权力和责任”,可以罢免总统。若总统对此持有异议,而副总统和内阁坚持这一看法,国会有权举行两院投票,并在取得三分之二以上票数的情况下罢免总统。修正案还指出,总统若在任期内遭到罢免,副总统将接替总统职位;总统若在任期内遭遇重大手术等情况,副总统则成为代理总统。

2. 这条修正案是如何诞生的?

为了解决宪法并未指明的某些关于总统和副总统的继任问题。例如,1841年,总统威廉·哈里森在任内逝世,副总统约翰·泰勒究竟应当成为代理总统、总统,还是在官方上依旧担任副总统,引发了争论。(泰勒自己决意进行了总统宣誓。)在1963年约翰·F·肯尼迪遇刺后,国会提出了宪法第二十五条修正案,并得到了总数超过四分之三的州通过。肯尼迪遭到枪击立刻引发了一片混乱,如果他有幸存活却只能保持偶尔的清醒,或是身受重伤,究竟谁来领导美国?这一系列问题引发了紧张的讨论。

3. 之前有过动用第二十五条修正案的时刻吗?

它从未被用于罢免在任的总统,不过填补过两次副总统位置的空缺。(在修正案生效之前,美国偶尔会有副总统之位长期空置的情况。)1973年,斯皮罗·阿格纽因为逃税指控被迫辞职,总统理查德·尼克松提名众议员杰拉德·福特担任副总统,并得到了参议院和众议院的通过。第二年尼克松辞职,福特成为总统,提名了前纽约州州长纳尔逊·洛克菲勒担任副总统,也得到了国会的通过。

4. 为什么这次提到了第二十五条修正案?

《纽约时报》(New York Times)和美国广播公司新闻频道(ABC News)报道称司法部副部长罗德·罗森斯坦曾在去年探讨过招募内阁成员动用修正案罢免特朗普的可能性。(罗森斯坦对此予以否认,并在给《纽约时报》的一份声明中表示他“没有理由”动用修正案。)就在几周前的9月5日,《纽约时报》发表了一篇“特朗普当局的高级官员”所写的专栏文章。其中表示“正如许多人所见,如今时局动荡。内阁中有人私下讨论过动用第二十五条修正案,通过一系列复杂的程序罢免总统。但没人愿意因此引发宪法危机。因此,我们正在倾尽全力,让政权回到正轨,直到这一切结束——无论是以哪种方式。”(财富中文网)

译者:严匡正

Quick: How could a sitting U.S. president be legally removed from office? Most people have heard of impeachment, a power granted to (and rarely used by) the U.S. Congress. But there’s also the 25th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides an avenue for a president to be removed under extraordinary circumstances by his or her own leadership team. Critics of President Donald Trump have cited the amendment approvingly, even wishfully, over the past two years while reviewing what they consider his erratic behavior. More recently there are indications that deploying the amendment has even been discussed within Trump’s own government.

1. What does the 25th amendment say?

It provides that a president can be removed if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet determines he or she is “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the office. If the president contests the finding, and the vice president and cabinet persist, Congress can order the president’s removal by a two-thirds vote in both chambers. The amendment also clarifies that the vice president is the successor if a president leaves office in midterm, and that the vice president becomes acting president when, say, a president undergoes major surgery.

2. Why does this even exist?

To address some questions about presidential and vice presidential succession that the Constitution didn’t specifically answer. For instance, when President William Harrison died in office in 1841, there was a debate over whether Vice President John Tyler would become acting president, or president, or officially remain vice president. (Tyler decided on his own to have a judge administer the presidential oath of office.) The 25th amendment was introduced in Congress, and ratified by the requisite three-quarters of U.S. states, after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the immediate confusion following the shooting of Kennedy, there were tense questions about who would run the country should he survive but only in a semiconscious or otherwise grievously wounded condition.

3. Has the 25th amendment been used before?

Never to remove a sitting president, but twice to fill a vacant vice presidency. (Before the amendment took effect, the U.S. occasionally went long periods without any vice president.) In 1973, after Spiro Agnew was forced to resign because of tax-evasion charges, President Richard Nixon nominated Representative Gerald Ford to become vice president. He was approved by the House and Senate. After Nixon resigned the following year, Ford became president and nominated Nelson Rockefeller, a former governor of New York, as vice president. He was confirmed by Congress.

4. Why is the 25th amendment coming up now?

The New York Times and ABC News reported that the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, last year discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the amendment to remove Trump from office. (Rosenstein denied the account and said in a statement to the Times that he sees “no basis” to invoke the amendment.) Weeks earlier, on Sept. 5, the Times published an op-ed by a person identified only as “a senior official in the Trump administration” who wrote, “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”

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